It didn't require a Ph.D. to suspect that when the Herald reporter wrote "allegations concerning her personal life," it was a polite phrase to describe a suspected lesbian. One might also guess, however, that the Herald was just too much of a homophobic coward to reveal the allegation.

Even more pathetic is that probably another generation will have to pass before we'll see one of the Herald's muzzled but supposedly openly gay journalists have the opportunity (or intellectual courage) to comment on such a story. If a story like that were relevant to any other minority group in this town, do you have any doubt we'd see editorial comment all over the media?

There could have been no credible extortion attempt if Judge Ellen Venzer had not been in the closet regarding her sexuality. If an affirmative acknowledgement to the public she serves is embarrassing and scandalous to her, then she should seriously consider resigning from the bench.

As a member of the gay community, Judge Venzer has a moral obligation to help fight gay discrimination in this society. She and others like her do not deserve to be on the bench if they choose to cower in the closet.

Although she was forced out by an alleged blackmail attempt, I applaud Judge Venzer's courage in facing up to the revelation. As the battle for gay equality continues in America, it is essential that gay people come out of the closet that perpetuates discrimination.

Ambrose Sims
Miami Beach

Over the Edge and Underwhelmed
I have to say I was surprised by Jim DeFede's "Over the Edge and Under Investigation." Besides being below the usual standards of New Times's ability to ferret out corruption, scandal, and wrongdoing, the article didn't really say much.

While I was pleased to see that a Dade County elected official such as Judge Venzer actually followed the rules as she was supposed to, I did not read about any abuse of her power, nor did I see any impropriety on the part of anyone but Lynne Sachs. Her idea of blaming it on the dead guy is so in vogue you really must give her credit -- dead men tell no tales, fortunately for her.

I am a little surprised that the only prurient thing New Times could pick out about Judge Venzer is her lifestyle. So what?! We have representatives in Congress like Barney Frank who stand up and admit their sexual preference, and we don't elect them based on that.

New Times didn't have anything it could uncover about the quality of Judge Venzer's work on the bench, no "backroom deals," just her lifestyle, a choice that is hers to make. There is not one scintilla of proof that her choice affects the job the people elected her to do.

When New Times reported Ms. Sachs's statement that Judge Venzer was using her "political connections" to push the issue toward the U.S. Attorney's Office, I didn't follow. If anyone threatened, or attempted to influence, a politician or judge and that person did not report it to the proper authorities, the public would be demanding a federal investigation.

Ms. Sachs is now getting the public scrutiny she wanted, but the magnifying glass is on her, her IRS returns, and her veracity.

I wonder about one last thing, though: Who tipped New Times to this incident? The dead guy? Was it by fax?

Robert Seitz

More to Teen Life than Gangs and Zits
This is in response to Larry Boytano's article "The Young and the Rockless" (October 16). As a teenager I find it refreshing that someone actually recognizes that the youth of Miami might actually have a culture of their own (other than gang activity). I was upset, to say the least, when I heard of the closing of Cheers. It was the only place teens could go almost every night of the week and socialize with people they knew and see bands they were familiar with that played what they wanted to hear.

Like most, I am cash-poor. When Cheers was open, I always found it easier to part with the five-dollar cover charge to see three or four hours of live music than to spend the same amount on a movie. I believe many like me will refuse to give up their passion for live music, which is the only way youths can really express their unique ideas and emotions.

I commend Rose's Bar & Music Lounge for supporting local acts and for understanding that people under 21 need music as much as anyone. I hope it won't be alone in South Florida for long. I also commend New Times for giving publicity to the bands and individuals who continue to make sure that the treasured all-ages shows don't disappear completely.

Greg Ottenberg

The Week Shall Inherit the Praise
Loathe as I am to praise New Times, I must commend you on your "Calendar" section, the only part of your rag I (and most of Miami) pay any attention to. I don't know what you've done, but the blurbs have actually become fun to read! The writing has undergone a marked change for the better -- lively and satirical. They inform while refusing to take themselves and much of their subject matter too seriously.

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